WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The most prominent users of data collected by the US National Security Agency (NSA) are federal and international law enforcement agencies, NSA whistleblower William Binney said during the Whistleblowers Summit in Washington, DC on Wednesday.
“It is the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigations] and the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] that are actually using this,” Binney said of the NSA database.
Binney explained that US federal law enforcement agencies are the NSA’s “new customer,” and they are using the agency’s database to “investigate, retroactively, anyone they want.”
The NSA, whose mission is to collect signals intelligence on foreign targets, collected vast amounts of US communications under programs such as Operation Stellar Wind that were exposed by Snowden.
Binney noted the NSA database is outsourced both to US and international law enforcement, and added NSA is “sharing this data around the world with all the policing agencies around the world who they collaborate with.”
Both US and international law enforcement agencies are able to query the NSA database for incriminating evidence “without oversight,” Binney warned.
The NSA has repeatedly defended the agency’s intelligence collection programs as being in the interests of national security and within the scope of US privacy laws.
In May 2015, a US federal appeals court ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata was illegal and unconstitutional.
The US Congress implemented a law last month to end the bulk collection of telephone metadata by the agency, marking the first time lawmakers had attempted to curb the spying agencies’ surveillance powers since 2001.
William Binney worked as a crypto-mathematician at the NSA before resigning in 2001. After leaving the NSA, Binney blew the whistle on programs he helped develop, which he believed were being misused to spy on the communications of US citizens.